Terrifying Tudors (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary

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Terrifying Tudors (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary

Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Terry Deary brings his usual wicked wit to a particularly bloody period of English history, peppering the facts with a hefty dose of humour to keep children begging for more. The new larger font and spacing between lines is a very welcome improvement, making this book much easier to read for younger children, while the extra illustrations add to the fun.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: February 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1407135786

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I've always thought Terry Deary was years ahead of his time. He was writing books that boys really wanted to read many years before the current emphasis on boy friendly reading material and all the efforts to close the ever widening gender gap in reading. Horrible Histories have always been brilliant to motivate boys to read, but the older copies do show their age. Progress has been made in the way books are printed to make them more accessible to struggling readers over the last 20 years. Horrible Histories new editions celebrating 20 Horrible Years has addressed this issue and makes the books not only the type of books that boys want to read, but also the type of book that younger children or those with reading difficulties can read.

The new books are slightly larger and have 240 pages instead of 144. With all this extra space you could be forgiven for assuming these books have extra text added to them. They do not. It is basically the same book but the text is larger and there is more spacing between the lines. In addition there are larger illustrations and added rats. This is Horrible Histories after all, and the rat has become quite popular so they have added more pictures of their mascot. While this may not seem like much of change, a larger font and more spacing between lines is recommended for children with dyslexia, but it makes reading much easier for most children. My son took one look at the older Horrible Histories and decided they were too hard, but he breezes through the newer editions. These changes really do make a massive difference for younger readers.

Like all of the books in this series, Terrifying Tudors is written primarily to entertain. Terry Deary wanted to write books that children would enjoy reading, not books to be used to educate. But whether he intended it or not, his books do both in equal measure. They do entertain. My sons absolutely love theses books, and I have to admit, I really enjoy them myself. But they also educate. My sons have learned more in a few months from these books than in years using other books to teach history, and what's more - they often ask for other non fiction books on the same topics they have read about in Horrible History. The Tudor Period is another era I am very familiar with, but I still found myself learning new details and looking at facts I already knew in a different light. Horrible Histories may be intended for children, and they are perfectly suited to a reader with no prior of knowledge of the subject whatsoever. But while I would have never dreamed of picking a Horrible Histories book if I had not children, I found this highly entertaining and informative for adults as well.

Terrifying Tudors briefly mentions Richard III before beginning with the first of the Tudors, Henry VII. This section is very short, but perhaps Henry VII wasn't quite horrible enough for a further mention, at least not in comparison to his progeny. If anyone qualifies as horrible, Henry the VIII does, and a large portion of this book covers his reign of terror. Deary calls him a terrorist, a title some might take offense at but he did rule through terror and executions. Henry averaged 5 executions a day for 38 years. Mary may not have sent quite so many heads rolling, but her gruesome practice of burning people alive easily earns her the title of horrible as well, although her madness is not well documented here. Finally we have Elizabeth and the Golden age, but this was not without some horrible moments as well. I was surprised to see brief mention of the Aztecs as well, as I was expecting this to focus only on England, but I found this a welcome addition, giving an idea of what was happening in this era in other parts of the world.

This book is told in Deary's usual style of short stories, jokes, and quizzes. This book does have quite a lot of death and some gruesome descriptions of executions, but the part that concerned my children the most was the mention of bear and bull baiting. This book is not suitable for very sensitive children. It is also not suitable for overly sensitive adults. Deary has quite a few digs at teachers here, one of which even had my husband laughing. This does have the desired effect of lightening up the mood after reading about some of the more weighty subjects and keeps the children interested. I do think these jokes are necessary to keep the book from becoming depressing with the more serious subject matter, Deary always knows just when to throw in a joke and break the tension. There is also the usual toilet humour along with a hefty dose of gallows humour.

If this book appeals then you'll also be revolted by Measly Middle Ages (Horrible Histories) also by Terry Deary and you'll enjoy The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon and P J Lynch.

Buy Terrifying Tudors (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Terrifying Tudors (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Terrifying Tudors (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Terrifying Tudors (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary at Amazon.com.


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